Inclusion versus exclusion: Caribbeans in Britain and France

Rahsaan Maxwell

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter examines how national contexts influence migrant political organization dynamics. Its focus is on Caribbeans in Britain and France, who have similar migration histories as well as similar social and economic integration outcomes, but different patterns of national-level political organization. In many ways, some difference in political organization is to be expected, because there are many political, economic, and cultural differences between Britain and France likely to shape migrant organizational dynamics in the two countries. The different patterns of national-level political organization among Caribbeans in Britain and France pose an interesting puzzle, however, because they are the opposite of what one would expect. Because British public policies are often cited as exaggerating racial and ethnic divisions, one might expect Caribbean national-level political organizations in Britain to focus on ethnic-specific and race-specific constituencies. Instead, they tend to be broadly defined and seek to represent all migrant groups. In comparison, French public policies are often cited as extremely resistant to political mobilization by ethnic and racial groups. However, it is in France that national-level political organizations have emerged among Caribbeans focusing on ethnic-specific Caribbean or race-specific black constituents. To explain these outcomes, I analyze variation across key indicators of political presence and political weight as defined in this volume. French Caribbeans, I argue, cannot obtain significant visibility and recognition among government officials, affiliations with elected and appointed officials, involvement in governance, or the capacity to have their interests represented in public policy either as individual citizens or through existing broad-based migrant political organizations. As a result, Caribbean activists have decided to politically mobilize along ethnic and racial lines as a way of addressing the issues important to them. In comparison, Caribbeans in Britain have enjoyed more political presence and greater political weight through broad-based migrant coalitions. Therefore, Caribbeans in Britain have fewer incentives to mobilize politically along racial and ethnic lines.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationCivic Hopes and Political Realities
    Subtitle of host publicationImmigrants, Community Organizations, and Political Engagement
    PublisherRussell Sage Foundation
    Number of pages26
    ISBN (Print)9780871547019
    StatePublished - 2008

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences


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